NASA's longest-reigning administrator resigned today, after serving three presidents and overseeing an unprecedented shake up of the U.S. space program. Dan Goldin, 61, will leave the job on 17 November. The White House has not announced a replacement.
Goldin said he is departing for family reasons, but current and former aides confide he was frustrated that President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney did not intend to keep him on the job. For several months, White House officials have been fruitlessly searching for someone to replace Goldin at NASA's helm.
In 1992, when the elder Bush was president, he offered Goldin the job--a moment that was "the highlight of my life," Goldin wrote in his resignation letter to his appointer's son, George W. Bush. Goldin made a name for himself at the space agency by quickly pushing a "faster, better, cheaper" approach. He scaled back NASA's workforce by nearly a third, revamped a number of bloated projects, and launched a series of space science missions which took less time and money to execute but lent the agency public visibility. But Goldin also came under fire for the troubled space station program, which is running billions of dollars over budget, and sometimes what critics called a capricious management style.
Goldin will become a fellow for the Council of Competitiveness in Washington, D.C.